Going minimalist is all about lightening the load by owning few things, otherwise, our things end up owning us. All the repairs and maintenance, storage, and a host of other time-consuming activities associated with owning too much stuff gets to be a problem eventually. Trimming down to just the essentials and a few little extras beyond that brings sanity back home.
Here are four quick tips for people new to a minimalist lifestyle.
1. Going Multipurpose
One way to reduce the number of items one owns is to ensure that most items cover multiple purposes. A coat hanger that also hangs ties (rather than having a separate tie hanger). A black messenger bag that’s suitable for business meetings and trips to the café on the weekend.
The more items one owns that perform double-duty, the fewer total items are necessary to own, maintain, repair, and replace. Not every item is a multipurpose one, but aim for 80 percent that are.
2. Use It or Lose it
You may have heard of the 12-month rule. The idea behind this tip is that anything that’s not been touched or used in the last year gets freecycled, thrown out or sold for a profit.
Keeping things just because it’s polite or expected isn’t a good enough reason to have extra junk you don’t want laying around. That’s not minimalism. In most cases, if you haven’t needed the item in the last year, it isn’t worth keeping. Do bear in mind that this isn’t true in every case. A manual that’s useful to perform repairs is still worth keeping because it’ll save money vs. paying for repairs later. One must use sound judgment here.
3. Only Tackle One Room/Area at a Time
Depending on the size of your home or office, it is a good idea to decide to only tackle just one room (or even one part of a room). Doing so avoids the feeling of overwhelm that can overcome the initial burst of enthusiasm about downsizing your life to something more manageable.
Be sure not to simply move items out of the designated area and into another space. That will only create a new cluttered area. One must be willing to invest the time to go through each item, decide how recently it was used, whether it can be sold or given away, and take the appropriate action for each item after it’s been processed. Once the whole room/area has been gone through and action taken towards clearing the clutter, only then is it a smart idea to move to the next room/area on the list.
4. Get a Home Loan You Can Handle
With the cost of homes still at record levels, it’s not a bad time to refinance. Mortgage loans provide many ways to buy a home of your own instead of renting. Whether buying a large estate or a tiny house, it’s possible to access affordable financing to make the dream of homeownership come true. Don’t let property ownership pass you by. The smaller the home, the faster it’ll be to pay off.
There are many approaches to going minimalist with no absolute right or wrong way to go about it. We all have a self-imposed limit for how many items we wish to own and how much space is too much. It’s about balance in all things to reach the level one is comfortable with.